Earlier in the week I posted about my weekend in Amsterdam, we stayed at an amazing hotel (InterContinental Amstel Amsterdam) thanks to me using up some of my IHG Reward Club points, which even covered the flights too for both of us. You can read all about my experience using my 1 Million IHG Reward club points HERE.
Well in this post, I wanted to share a little bit more about what we got up to. It took Tall Dad and I a while to get acclimatised, and if I’m honest, some parts of Amsterdam, weren’t really for me. The red light district being the main thing. To be so overtly there, at the turn of a corner I really didn’t like. We even saw a nursery in amongst that area, I did struggle with that concept. We did however see so many other things that we absolutely loved, so here are the top picks!
It felt like in amongst the canals and long rows of bikes that lined the streets in Amsterdam were so many gems. You can walk or cycle everywhere, as long as you are relatively fit and healthy.
The first day was a great opportunity for us to walk and talk and discover the area. I think slowing us down, to drink it all in, was a great idea for the first day and evening.
The architecture was very changing, and often full of surprises. The typical dutch houses that lined the canal were beautiful.
I especially loved the house boats on the canals. A guide told us that the plot alone costs 1 million Euros, and the cost of the boats house is on top of that, they are extremely sort after.
There were definitely eccentricity everywhere. This was a huge floor to ceiling bay window, filled at the bottom with plants, and the top with globes. Completely random, I’ve no idea why, but it made us smile.
Of course the streets in the centre were bustling with tourists, bars, cafe and the infamous ‘coffee’ shops.
Our hotel –InterContinental Amstel Amsterdam, arranged a boat trip on our behalf. It lasted an hour and was 35 Euros. We were joined by a lovely family, and spent the time with our very knowledgeable captain, cruising the canals, as he talked us through a history of the area.
It was a beautiful hour to relax and unwind.
The boat we sailed in was an authentic one built in the 1920’s which had recently be refitted as electric powered, so was very silent as we sailed. I would definitely recommend this type of tour, as it was very non-commercial and layed back. Go to www.douwespoelstra.nl for more details.
We also visited the New Church (Nieuwe Kerk) which dates back to 1408 (!) yes there is one that even older than this one- The Old Church, and is in fact the oldest building in Amsterdam. We both knew very little about the history of the royal family (the latest King was married here) in Holland, so if you’d like to learn more we can definitely recommend a visit to Nieuwe Kirk. It only takes around an hour to cover it all, and there are listening devises that make learning more, really easy.
Would to you believe that the above photograph is just part of the lecturn.
I love the angels that decorated this section of the church, said to aid the departed on their journey.
The stone work was beautiful
The museum shop had some great postcards of the royal family, I couldn’t resist taking a photograph of them.
We also visited the Van Gogh Museum, this is definitely another one I would recommend. If you don’t mind being tied down to a time, I suggest you pre-book the slot to avoid the queues though. We arrived quite early but it still was a fairly long wait. We tried to see the Anne Frank Museum, donthe last day, and didn’t realise quite how popular that would be, the queues were incredible. If this is a must see for you, you need to prebook, so that you can enter at a different entrance to avoid it.
There is something so mind-blowing being up close to such amazing pieces of art at the Van Gogh Museum. I downloaded an app onto my phone where I could scan each of the paintings, so it told me more about their history, which would have been great, had it not been so busy, one of the downsides of going in August I think. Its only 15 Euros admission and definitely worth it, to spend time amongst the worlds largest collection of Van Gogh paintings. In that area, known as the Museum Quarter, there are lots of other places to visit, like the Rijksmuseaum. It’s also close to the Vondelpark, which would be a perfect get away for a picnic in the summer.
We also took a Candlelit Cruise one evening, with cheese and wine, we did find slowing down the pace on these cruises worked for us. Amsterdam in the height of summer, and I would imagine in spring, is very busy. We used Holland International Canal Cruises – more information can be found at www.canal.nl Our cruise was 37.50 Euros and lasted 2 hours. We prebooked this, I would suggest getting there at least 1/2 an hour before the cruise so you can choose where you want to sit. Try and bagsy yourself a table by an open window, so you can take photographs.
Buy, or print off a map. We had one that came with our Lonely Planet guide book, and it was invaluable.
If you arrive by plane to Stiphol Airport, you can simply get a train to Central Station for around 5 Euros each.
I would definitely then recommend the GVB travel pass, which gives you unlimited travel on the Metro, trains and Buses. You can purchase these at the silver machines, at the train station. We only found two of those, so be prepared to queue. I believe there is also a GVB center to purchase passes. We opted for a three day pass, costing 16 Euros each. We used ours a lot on the second and third day, as we were trying to cram as much in as possible.
The Metro (Underground) at Central Station, is just outside the doors, its a really efficient way of getting around, as is the tram system.
I may have to do a separate post, just on the food and drink we sampled. I wanted to write in this post though, that we really enjoyed the food in Amsterdam. We ate a range of foods, at bakeries, café’s, restaurants and in pubs. I found it incredibly easy as a vegetarian to find delicious things to eat, from simple and honest, to more complex and fine dining. The cheeses were amazing. My most memorable dishes were a green pesto and dutch cheese toastie (I know, so simple, and yet WOW!) a muesli roll I ate warm from a bakery, and a spinach and Gorgonzola soup I ate in a pub. You can visit my Instagram account, for more highlights of our trip.
Just in case you didn’t catch it, here is the video of my time in Amsterdam
We are working with InterContinental Hotels to share our IHG Rewards Club experience. We have been given ONE MILLION Reward points and we are using them and writing about our experiences throughout summer.